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McGill at last

In 1898, Maude was appointed assistant curator at the McGill Pathology Museum. Her dream of working at McGill — her beloved McGill,as she would call it throughout her life — became a reality. She took over the position of curator in 1901 and developed a classification system for medical specimens. Maude was extremely passionate about this work and the Pathology Museum, in the words of a McGill professor at the time, “needed a lover”. She evidently has a genius for this sort of thing,commented her colleagues at McGill. Diligent and meticulous, Maude organized and classified the museum’s collection of specimens, some of which dated back to 1823.

Black and white photo of an exhibit of anatomical specimens at McGill University. Specimens in square glass jars are displayed along a wall.

Classification System for Congenital Heart Disease, July 1932


Maude visited the United States to study medical museums. In Baltimore she met Dr. William Osler. This encounter with the man who would become her mentor and supporter was one of the most stimulating of her young career. During a dinner with a group of other young doctors, Osler said to Maude, I wonder now, if you realize what a splendid opportunity you have in that McGill Museum.

Pages 83 and 84 of Maude Abbott’s museum classification guide; black ink on sepia paper. Each page has the title “Museum Classification – Abbott” followed by a list of medical conditions.

Extract, Maude Abbott’s descriptive classification system for medical specimens, 1925


Dr. Osler’s words changed Maude Abbott’s life, as she would observe years later in her autobiography.  And so he quietly dropped the seed that dominated all my future work for many years.”

Photograph of a grey engraving of a bust of William Osler, adult, right profile. He is wearing a jacket with a high-collared shirt and tie. He has an imposing moustache and short hair. To his left can be seen the inscription “F. Vernon – Paris MDCCCIII”. The bottom of the engraving reads “William Osler”.

Doctor William Osler by F. Vernon


Book cover. The book is blue with the following title in gold lettering: “Classified Bibliography of Sir William Osler Maude E. Abbot”

Cover, Classified and annoted bibliography of Sir William Osler, by Maude Abbott, 1939

First page of the Classified Bibliography of Sir William Osler, black ink on sepia paper. It contains the following text: “Classified and Annotated Bibliography Of Sir William Osler’s Publications (Based on the Chronological Bibliography by Minnie Wright Blogg) Edited by Maude E. Abbott, B.A., M.D., LL.D. (McGill)” The McGill University coat of arms appears under this title, followed by: “Second Edition, Revised and Indexed Montreal, Canada The Medical Museum, McGill University 1939”.

Classified and annoted bibliography of Sir William Osler, by Maude Abbott, 1939